Once the vessel of only the most, let's say, accessible wines, boxes' new popularity (primarily for their convenience and shelf life even after opening) have encouraged vintners to explore boxing better wines. Me? I’m a fan of several box wines, including the very popular Pinot Evil and the Bota Box Malbec.
Despite my unabashed appreciation, the growing acceptance of box wine surprises me. Enter: Uncorked, Nashville’s First Box Wine Festival this weekend in Cumberland Park. That’s right; an entire festival featuring samples of nothing but wines from boxes. And the selection is extensive; that’s a lot of wine. Fortunately, you have all afternoon to wander about the park and leisurely sip the best that boxes have to offer.
The website also indicates that ticket prices will also include entertainment and “food trucks and vendors,” but is short on details. One would hope there will be some noshes available to soak up all that wine in your belly.
Uncorked Box Wine Festival
Saturday, July 26
Noon to 6 p.m.
592 S. First St. (east riverside)
Tickets: $35 per person (plus fees)
[tip: search for the festival online and you may be able to find discounted tickets]
Outstanding in the Field is sort of a restaurant without walls, where diners enjoy high cuisine at a long table, Viking-style, in the middle of some pastoral setting. Wedge Oak Farm should be a perfect locale for this event. The 110-year-old family farm is now run by fourth generation farmer Karen Overton and provides Mangalitsa pork, chicken and other poultry to many of Nashville's finest award-winning chefs and restaurants.
The chef for this event is none other than Josh Habiger, one of the founding chefs of The Catbird Seat and currently executive chef at Pinewood Social. If you're a regular reader of Bites, you already know that he has won numerous national accolades for his cuisine. For the Outsanding in the Field dinner, Habiger will create a multi-course menu of locally sourced ingredients including all the meats from Wedge Oak Farms.
Even more important than the specific dishes is the mission on the meal, which is described as "to inspire both a conversation at the table and a broader discussion about food, community and the meaning of place. A traveling feast with a central vision of farmers, chefs, cheese makers, ranchers, foragers and winemakers in delicious communion with the people they sustain."
Plan a whole day for the event, since it starts at 2 p.m. with a tour of the 96-acre farm, followed by mingling over cocktails. Then everyone will gather at the table for a tremendous feast. The extremely limited tickets are $220 per person and are available at the event website.
One nice touch about this particular festival is that the participants seem to have a good sense of humor about themselves and are willing to share details of their lives off the air and out of the restaurants with their fans. Here's the schedule of all the panel discussions and a little background about each of them:
On Saturday Sept. 20 at 12:30 p.m., Andrew Zimmern will lead a panel titled "Kitchen Disasters" where he and chefs Ashley Christensen, Michael Symon and Levon Wallace will swap tales of culinary snafus and how they conquered them. This should be worth a peek just to hear Michael Symon's laugh at his own and others' stories.
Saturday at 2:15, Kings of Leon’s Caleb Followill and chefs Amanda Freitag and Tandy Wilson will share their go-to soundtracks for cooking up a feast in a panel they're calling "Prep Playlist." Get ready to update your Spotify!
On Sunday Sept. 21, three renowned Southern chefs, Mike Lata, Alon Shaya and Frank Stitt will discuss how they blend their diverse backgrounds and unique culinary perspectives into a shared love of the culture, cuisine and ingredients in the panel "Southern Roots." These are definitely some heavyweight perspectives, with multiple James Beard nominations and awards among them. In fact, for years, Stitt's Highland's Bar and Grill in Birmingham was only slightly facetiously referred to as "The Best Restaurant in Atlanta," thanks to the scores of diners willing to make the drive over on I-20.
The event is also sponsored by the U.S. Bartenders Guild, which sends a representative to judge the technique and precision of the competitors' recipes and pours. Other judges consider the creativity and taste of the cocktails made with Bombay Sapphire products. This year's roster of competitors represents some of the most talented mixologists from the hottest cocktail emporiums in town, including Clemons, who is back to defend his crown. Here's the list:
Grant Fisher - Party Fowl (opening soon in the Gulch)
Justin Stamper - TerraMae in Chattanooga
Caleb Kimbley - Rumours Wine Bar
Ben Clemons - No. 308
Daniel Ness - The Crying Wolf
Jeremiah Blake - MStreet
Robert Mayo - National Underground
Tom Ounsamone - Flyte World Dining & Wine
Kevin King - Husk
Fabiano Santos - Bob's Steakhouse/Omni Hotel
Daniel Cheney - Sinema
Alan Kennedy - The Sutler
Up first is the Williamson County Fair, which runs Aug. 1-9. New among the competitions this year are the Loveless Cafe Biscuit Contest ($300 in prize money awarded; pre-register by this Friday, July 25) and the Sandwich Cookie Stacking Contest. Also of note: the Little Debbie® Snacks “pastry sculpture” contest, The Ball Fresh Preserving Awards for excellence in canning (multiple categories!), country hams and homemade wine. There are, of course also competitions for cakes, cookies, pies, breads and just about everything else you can produce in a kitchen, including wine and country hams. There are even special contests for kids. Most of these competitions are open to Williamson County residents as well as those who live in adjoining counties.
The following week, Aug. 15-23, you can check out the state’s largest county fair, the Wilson County Fair. New this year is a cake decorating contest where the grand prize winner takes home $75. Not bad, considering the added bonus of bragging rights that comes with a blue ribbon. Also new this year is the egg competition, which pits the young chicken farmers of Wilson county against each other for whose hens produce the best eggs. Wilson County is also hosting the Martha White baking contests as well as its own wine and ham competitions, salsa competition, “Homemade Ice Cream Freeze-Off,” and “Cupcake Challenge.” Take note that many of the contests (but not all) are limited to Wilson county residents only.
Even if you don’t enter the competitions, be sure to browse through the entrants and winners on display. You can get some great ideas for your own cooking and canning, particularly from the pie and jelly competitions. I also really enjoy browsing through the “agricultural” entrants; that means the giant pumpkins, prettiest muscadines and juiciest tomatoes among many other local produce. That is, I really enjoy torturing myself by seeing all the great produce that other people are able to grow while my own garden remains mostly barren. And, oh yeah, there are rides and entertainment (and a LOT of other activities) at both fairs, too.
Williamson County Fair
Williamson County Agricultural EXPO Park
4215 Long Lane
Wilson County Fair
James E. Ward Agricultural Center
945 E. Baddour Parkway
And it turns out next month is National Sandwich Month. Well, allegedly, according to a press release I got this week. Of course, as this 2012 Esquire story points out, the legitimacy of said monthlong celebration is in question.
Anyway, it's got me thinking about all of my favorite sandwiches in town. I'm not going to name any of them yet, since I want to read about your favorites first. I'll chime in after a day or two.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is as follows:
• What's your favorite sandwich at a Nashville eatery?
• What's your favorite homemade sandwich concoction, your pièce de résistance?
• What silly contrived monthlong celebration would you like to create? Should there be a National Hot Chicken Month? National Okra Month? National Ghost Pepper Chili Month? National Red Wine Vinegar Month? National Coriander Month?
And what else is on your mind?
All you have to do is make sure that you are signed up with Uber (and have downloaded the app here). For one day, an additional button will appear on the app home screen that says "ice cream." Request that, and if a participating driver is nearby, you and your friends can be enjoying a tasty frozen treat within minutes. Although it could possibly be a lot of minutes, since demand may be tremendous while the ice cream is being offered from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m.
You don't need any cash, because like with a regular Uber ride, your treats will be charged to your account in an automatic transaction. Recruit some friends, since it's $25 for five helpings of premium ice cream. Nashville will have UberX cars and local ice cream trucks to offer bundles of five treats for you to share with friends, co-workers, or loved ones. Don't worry about wastage, since any leftover ice cream will be donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank at the end of the day.
So if you're looking for a fun way to cool off, but don't feel like making the journey to your local ice cream parlor, Uber it!
On Saturday, July 29, the Predators are holding their first ever Hot Wing Faceoff, where eight local restaurants will compete for the title of wing king. The event, which benefits Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee, will feature fiery fowl from: Bolton's Hot Chicken and Fish; Brother Z's Wang Shack; Corner Pub; Crow's Nest; Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken; Mineo's Wings, Pizza & Raw Bar; Sam's Sports Bar; and Smokin' Thighs.
Your $35 admission grants you all the wings you can snarf up from the participating restaurants and a vote for the best wings in town. You'll also get a ticket to a future Preds game plus the opportunity to enjoy live music and entertainment, cornhole games and a silent auction. Since man can't live by wings alone (or so they say), concessions will also be on sale at the event, with fountain drinks for $2, plus $4 beers. Buy your tickets at the event website.
So let's do a little handicapping in advance. Who ya' got as a winner from all those competitors? Who do you think got left out in the battle for wing supremacy?
In addition to the Market House restaurants, Helen’s Hot Chicken will be in the Grow Local Kitchen, Sehrt Seafood will have a shrimp boil, and Smoke Et Al, Riffs, Bao Down and Music City Pie Company food trucks will be lined up to serve. For those 21 and older, Tennessee Brew Works will debut its seasonal farmhouse ale made with Delvin Farms beets, Arrington Vineyards will be pouring wine for sale, and D&D Events will feature a special cocktail, the “Red, White, and Blue,” that includes blueberries and watermelon. There will also be live music and of course, plenty of fresh produce to buy in the farm sheds as well as a number of crafts, flowers and plants and other items from market vendors.
This evening’s market is also hosting a “Back to School Supply Drive” in association with Nashville’s PENCIL Foundation. The most-requested items include for donation include backpacks, crayons, tissues, notebook paper, pencils and pens. So be sure to bring in a few supplies and help some kids out.
Night Market at the Nashville Farmers' Market
Friday, July 18, at 5 p.m.
900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
This year, the theme is dip. Not salsa, though; that’s a different competition altogether. So, it’s time to get creative and come up with a non-salsa dip that will wow the judges. As I’ve mentioned before, past winners have taken quite a bit of license with their entries, but you just never know what’s going to strike the judges’ fancy. I have a few ideas in mind; however, I have the added challenge that whatever I make will need to be prepared the day before and kept at the right temperature for the hours before the contest drop-off, which is right in the middle of the festival. East Nashvillians have a distinct advantage if they want to serve a freshly prepared dip.
Note that the rules have changed a bit this year. It’s now limited to just 20 entrants (down from 25) and only one entry per person is allowed (last year, Melissa Corbin took home both first and second prizes). And more detail about the dip and its accoutrements is required for submission. Additional information about the contest — including how to register — is available on the website. In addition to the tomato recipe contest and the aforementioned Rosepepper homemade salsa contest, there’s the very popular Bloody Mary contest at 3 Crow Bar as well. If you’re not feeling competitive, you can simply enjoy the tomato by attending the wine supper at Rumours on Thursday, Aug. 7, checking out various tomato treats at The Turnip Truck, the Giant Ice Cream Sundae Extravaganza at Pied Piper Creamery (kids only), or even bobbing for tomatoes.
Be sure to also check the website for full details on the rest of the fest’s events, including the parade, live music, and art shows.
The food trucks will be Riffs Street Food, Jonbalaya, Two Guys in a Lunchbox, and…
I just had it for the first time last week, but the chivito at Tango…
"takes it to a dark corner", that's pretty funny. The drink is great. Had one…
Good point, Abby! There are some talented ladies behind the stick around town. I'll ask…
No disrespect to the talented dudes on this list, but no lady bartender contenders?